United States Appeals Judge’s Order That Blocked TikTok Ban

On Thursday in the District of Columbia District Court, the United States filed a notice that it was appealing Judge Carl J. Nichols’s order that granted TikTok’s motion for a preliminary injunction to the D.C. Circuit. The judge’s decision prevented the government from barring downloads of TikTok, the Chinese-owned short-video social media app. This move comes after the United States also appealed another judge’s ruling that blocked the government’s ban on Chinese-owned messaging app WeChat.

Judge Nichols’s order has temporarily blocked the government from instituting its app store ban, which would have prohibited American app stores from allowing new downloads of TikTok or providing for new updates. The judge noted that the exceptions for “information services” and “personal communication” applied to TikTok. The government’s ban followed President Trump’s Executive Order that banned transactions with TikTok and WeChat, citing national security concerns and concerns that it collects information from its 100 million American users. The Executive Order prompted TikTok to sue the Trump administration. Meanwhile, TikTok had filed a motion for preliminary injunction, arguing that the government’s ban hindered free speech and due process and would suffer irreparable harm; the court agreed with these claims and granted the requested relief, finding that the administration likely exceeded their authority in the International Emergency Economic Powers Act.  

TikTok and its parent company, ByteDance, have been under increasing pressure to sell its U.S. operations due to national security concerns. The company struck a deal with Oracle and Walmart, which is under government review. The government imposed a deadline of November 12 to address its national security concerns. However, there are disputes about who will have majority ownership. Additionally, China will also have to approve the deal after it updated its export control rules to include technology transfer.